ECONOMY

Report of Qatar withdrawing from Elliniko dismissed

The government refuted a newspaper report on Tuesday that a deal with Qatar for the development of the old airport at Elliniko in southern Athens had fallen through, suggesting that the project remains on track.

According to the Eleftherotypia daily, the Arab emirate withdrew its interest in the multimillion-euro project after the European Union became involved due to behind-the-scenes pressure from Germany in order to prevent Athens from proceeding to the project?s direct concession.

The newspaper referred to a «fiasco» that reportedly angered Qatari officials, who are said to have accused the government of handling the issue in an amateur manner.

The report suggested that the involvement of architect Josep Acebillo, a personal friend of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, also played a role in the EU’s intervention, as the Spaniard had also undertaken the study for the project without a tender.

Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis categorically denied that Qatar had withdrawn its proposal, upon which an agreement was reached last year. He suggested the report was «unfounded and without a trace of truth» and added that «the plan for the development of Elliniko has not been abandoned.»

State Minister Haris Paboukis stated that Qatar assured him 15 days ago that its interest in Elliniko remains strong.